I’ve been embroiled in a pretty irritating (and endlessly ongoing) debate on social media lately, especially amid all the DOMA stuff and rampant, misinformed patriotism going on…
“One nation UNDER GOD!” ‘Murica!
Was our nation founded on “biblical” ideas, or the idea of religious freedom?
As I research, it seems there are conflicting ideas at work even as the country was founded. According to some sources, the country was founded by settlers fleeing the “tyranny” of the Church of England, for the purpose of being free to worship God how they felt fit. SO in that sense, you could say the US was founded on biblical beliefs…
And yet, in OUR CONSTITUTION, it expressly states that
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; […]and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Apparently, the word “Christianity” does not appear in the constitution. Now, I’m not sure about the word “bible.” But when it comes to the constitution, a lot of people (conservatives…eek!) are especially fond of quoting the part about the right to bear arms, but not so interested in upholding the “no law respecting an establishment of religion” part.
To word the initial question in a different way… was this country founded on religious freedom, or merely the “freedom” to be Christian?
And apparently the sad truth is that some states have constitutions that forbid atheists from holding public offices. You have to declare at least a belief in God. This seems to be in direct contrast to the idea of separation of church and state posed at the federal level, and while I admit a fairly rudimentary knowledge of politics, it’s been ingrained in my head since grade school that the states were not supposed to pass any laws that violated federal law. Somehow, there are many laws today that get around that somehow.
What I don’t understand is why it’s so difficult for anybody to just leave others alone. Still there are some people that insist this country is going to shit simply because things are not being done their way, whether that be with religion infused into everything or because gay people are allowed to marry, or…whatever!
Now, I had been requested by a close friend to “research” this further before rendering an opinion. While I don’t have hours to go through the constitution line by line right now, I’ll admit there seems to be conflicting ideas as to what this country is founded on, depending on where you look. But… what I am not conflicted on is the idea that people have “adapted” both the constitution and the Bible to fit more into their modern lives. Whether it be gun laws, laws and mores governing divorce, the use of birth control, etc, there are may passages that are interpreted only “loosely” or in a way that is more palatable to the morals we’ve actually internalized. My point is, while either or both of these texts might be good guidelines for how to live your life, as society and the human species changes, ideas need to change with it. For instance, the ideas of continuation of species, identification of parentage , reproductive survival, etc, may have been served better at one time by the ideas of marriage as between “one man ad one woman.” Historically speaking:
In Comanche society, married women work harder, lose sexual freedom, and do not seem to obtain any benefit from marriage. But nubile women are a source of jealousy and strife in the tribe, so they are given little choice other than to get married. “In almost all societies, access to women is institutionalized in some way so as to moderate the intensity of this competition. (wikipedia)
But now that model is not nearly as relevant, in an over-populated world where reproductive technology allows even single or infertile people to have children if they want.
Please don’t take this as an attack on religion. While I do not personally ascribe to any, I would not deny someone else their beliefs. But for the love of God (see what I did there? ) stop trying to use it to write or keep laws for a nation that is not any one religion! There are 313 million people in the US, and they don’t all think like you. The real idea behind America is supposed to be that they don’t have to.
EDIT: 7/18/13 This clears things up some, for me anyway. http://inphasemag.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/separation-of-church-and-state-is-in-the-constitution/comment-page-1/